During my health care career, I’ve received valuable guidance and inspiration from many wonderful mentors. Several of them encouraged me to step up and take a leadership role even when I wondered if I was ready. That experience taught me the value of mentoring and supporting young leaders. It’s critically important for experienced leaders to take on a mentorship role as we build and sustain strong hospitals and health systems for our patients and communities.

The AHA Next Generation Leaders Fellowship offers an outstanding opportunity for developing and empowering a new generation of hospital and health system leaders. The year-long program features an instructional phase — with virtual inquiry-based modules, discussions and web meetings with expert faculty — followed by work on a capstone project.

Each fellow is paired with an executive-level mentor who provides advice and support as the fellow works on their project. Projects focus on addressing a challenge or issue that’s specific to a fellow’s own organization, such as redesigning care delivery, managing risk, offering new payment models, implementing operational solutions or creating an age-friendly health system.

You can watch former fellows and mentors describe their fellowship experience and read about several fellows’ capstone projects by visiting AHA.org. Fellows who have participated say they valued making connections with mentors and peers, sharing challenges, hearing different perspectives, gaining new leadership skills and using the resources and tools provided.

A new fellowship cohort convenes this June with an in-person kickoff event and culminates with a final in-person gathering and celebration in July 2025. Fellows meet virtually with their mentors and peers throughout the 12 months.

I encourage you to nominate someone at your organization who is a rising leader or volunteer as a mentor in this incredible leadership program. Applications for fellows and interest forms for mentors joining the 2024-2025 cohort close on March 29. The John A. Hartford Foundation is offering scholarships to several fellows who focus their capstone projects on improving care for older adults.

Success is a reflection of the leadership we create within our own organizations. I am excited about the new generation of leaders helping us redefine how we deliver care. We must do all we can to encourage, support, guide and inspire these new leaders for continued innovation and excellence in health care.

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